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Neuroscience education at the Center of Neuroscience: An overview

Henrik Jahnsen, Jens Bo Nielsen, Nanna MacAulay

The Center of Neuroscience is responsible for the majority of all formal education in neuroscience at the University of Copenhagen, and more broadly, in the greater Copenhagen area. It offers courses targeted to both pre- and postgraduate students in medicine (>500 students/year) and odontology-dentistry, as well as in the programs of human biology, physiology, molecular biomedicine, and biomedical engineering.

The pregraduate medical and dental course curriculum taught by CNS Faculty includes:

  • Excitable cells (Basic neurophysiology and cellular neuroscience)
  • CNS structure and function (clinical neuroscience including the neurological examination)
  • Cellular Neuroscience (cellular and molecular properties of neurons and neural networks)
  • Neuropharmacology (taught in conjunction with Pharmacology)

The graduate course curriculum includes:

  • Human Neurobiology  (Integrative function of the human brain incl. EEG, fMRI, DTI, PET)
  • Neuronal Signaling (the nervous system and advanced techniques used to explore it)
  • Tissue & Movement Biomechanics (dynamics and energy consumption of movement)
  • Advanced cell biology (theoretical and practical coverage of cell biology and associated techniques)
  • Pharmacology and Toxicology (advanced pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, pharmaco­dynamics)

A range of highly specialized elective neuroscience graduate courses, taught by the faculty of CNS together with colleagues at Rigshospitalet, are offered periodically via the PhD School at the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. These include topics such as:

  • Advanced brain imaging
  • Advanced neuroanatomic methods
  • Neurodegenerative diseases and dementia
  • Recent advances in motor control
  • Stem cell biology of the CNS
  • Glial cell biology
  • Critical literature review

PhD students in neuroscience are enrolled in the graduate program in neuroscience, NeuroGrad, a part of the PhD school at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. 100 graduate students are currently enrolled in the program, with a strong representation of both basic and translationally-oriented neuroscience labs. A broad education and internal cohesion are encouraged by our weekly CNS seminar series, which includes both local researchers and clinicians as well as extramural invited speakers.

The NeuroGrad students also meet yearly for courses on transferable skills, such as efficient presentations, and project management for PhD students. This event is followed by the annual NeuroGrad Winter School, a retreat for PhD students and their supervisors, with project presentations, evaluations, and networking.

New initiatives since formation of CNS include capitalizing upon our relationship to Rigshospitalet, by:

  • establishing a graduate seminar in the Neurobiology of Disease, intended to include the best scientifically-oriented medical students and clinically-oriented basic researchers
  • establishing a cell biology-oriented course in neuro-oncology at Rigshospitalet, to include graduate students together with neurology and neurosurgery residents
  • establishing an MSc degree in translational neuroscience, with shared SUND and hospital faculty
  • expanding our teaching portfolio to include graduate students at the nearby Faculty of Science
  • collaborating with both Danish and Swedish universities to establish regionally-integrated neuroscience courses and apprenticeships, to encourage a broad network of well-trained PhDs, and hence fellows.